1.4.15

Chocolate CoCoZia Coconut Water

Amazon will deliver this to Canada after all. I recently tried the pure coconut water and liked it. Then I was offered chocolate flavoured. Hard to imagine chocolate flavoured coconut water but this is so good.

Why coconut milk you might think? The benefit they are selling is the electrolytes. These are important for body hydration and muscle function. Rather than buying energy drinks you can have organic coconut water.

I prefer this packaging. Rather than having to insert a straw this has a screw top. The portions are larger, two servings actually. But you can pour a little and put the cap back on, refrigerate and have more another time.

I hate to say this is an alternative to chocolate milk. It isn't actually. They are two different birds. But the flavour is the same.

Thank you to Epicurex.LLC for sending me a free case. And thank you to Diana at Epicurex for figuring out how to get me an Amazon gift certificate so I could have it delivered in Canada.

31.3.15

Zucchini Stuffed with Ricotta Fiddlehead Mousse


Spring is a great time of year for the food lover. Our plates will soon be filled with fresh from the garden foods. Until this new crop arrives I am using up my freezer and pantry stash from last summer.

I bet you thought this ricotta would be flavoured with the traditional basil. I like pesto made from all sorts of green herbs and vegetables and I adore this fiddlehead pesto. The flavour is all fiddlehead and so fresh.

For April our group has this wonderful line up of foods that just might fool you ...

Creamy Baked Eggs with Asparagus and Pecorino from Sandi at Whistlestop Cafe
April Fool Spicy Shrimp with Grits from Jerry at A Life Lived
Chicken BLT Sandwich from Val at More Than Burnt Toast
Shelby at Grumpy's Honeybunch winds up with this seasonal dessert - Rhubarb Trifle


Zucchini Stuffed with Ricotta Fiddlehead Mousse

I always make my own ricotta. It is so easy, so fresh and half the cost. Click on the link for my recipe and directions.

6 small zucchinis
1 cup homemade ricotta
1/4 cup fiddlehead pesto
1/4 cup freshly grated Reggiano Parmigiano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt
pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out pulp to leave a 1/4 inch shell. Reserve the pulp for another use.

Combine the remainder of the ingredients stirring well with a whisk. Fill zucchini with the ricotta mixture, pressing firmly.

Bake at 450 F until zucchini is tender, about 20 minutes.


Fiddlehead Pesto Recipe 

3 cups of boiling water with a pinch of salt
250 g fresh or frozen fiddlehead greens
1/3 cup olive oil, add more if needed
3 tablespoons crushed pine nuts or walnuts (optional)
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese  

Cook fiddleheads in boiling water with salt 8 minutes, drain very well. Add fiddleheads, nuts and garlic, slowly adding the 1/3 cup of olive oil, blend well. Add about 1/3 of the parmesan cheese, mix, add balance of cheese, stopping to scrape down sides of container. Process or blend until fiddlehead pesto forms a smooth paste consistency.

24.3.15

Penne with Goat Cheese and Squash

What are your pantry essentials? Pasta is one of mine. I like having a few different kinds on hand for quick meals. Nuts and garlic are always in my kitchen, also. The trick is to put it all together in new and interesting ways.

I finally found kabocha squash in the grocery store and chevre was on sale. My inspiration for tonight's meal came from a restaurant menu. I have no idea how they put it all together but this is my take on their goat cheese and squash first course.

Penne with Goat Cheese and Squash

1 squash, kabocha or butternut
olive or canola oil
1 c. penne
3 tbsp. soft goat cheese or chevre
2 tbsp. Greek yogurt
2 tbsp. finely grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dried Espelette pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp. chopped walnuts
salt and pepper

Cut squash into sections and scoop out seeds. Lightly oil a baking sheet and also lightly oil the squash segments. Season squash with salt and pepper. Arrange on baking sheet and roast at 350F until tender, about 20 minutes.

Coarsely chop the garlic and walnuts. Place on the baking pan with the squash. You will have to watch that these do not burn. Take them off the baking sheet when toasted and set aside.

Meanwhile boil the pasta in plenty of salted water until tender. Drain, reserving about a cup of the cooking water. Add goat cheese to drained pasta and cover the pot with the lid. Let it sit for a few minutes so the cheese melts. Add yogurt, oregano and pepper. Stir to mix. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.

When the squash is tender remove from the oven. Let it cool for a minute or two then peel the skin and chop about a cup of it into one-inch cubes.

Give the pasta a quick stir before plating. If it has become thick, add a little of the cooking water to loosen it up. Split the pasta between two plates or bowls. Top with squash and garnish with toasted garlic and walnuts. Serves 2.


21.3.15

A Plug for Coconut Water


A couple of weeks ago I received an email offering me a case of CoCoZia coconut water to try. I haven't been offered anything in such a long time. Even though I was not fond of coconut water I thought, "What the heck?" I said yes.

They emailed me an Amazon gift certificate. I ordered online and in a week or so they arrived. Immediately I was offered a case of their chocolate coconut water. Hmmm. That sounds interesting so again I agreed. I have no idea how I the first order was processed because on my second order Amazon.com would not deliver to Canada. Weird. They probably thought Saskatchewan was a city in Alaska or something on my first order.

I wonder if the chocolate coconut order had been delivered if I would continue to receive offers of all their flavours? Coffee, mango, pineapple? Too bad my luck ran out.

Anyhoo, I tried this coconut water. I was fully prepared to not like it but I was pleasantly surprised. I mean it still tastes like coconut water but I thought it was okay. I am not a fan of sweet drinks and this has no sugar. Usually I drink water or milk. I will enjoy my case of coconut water guilt-free. It is only 70 calories in 330 mL. 330 mL is a large serving for me. I would only drink half that at a time.

I have now fulfilled my agreement to post about CoCoZia on my blog. If you like, you can give it a try.

18.3.15

Saucy Cajun Round Steak


A nicely cooked and satisfying home dinner in my home is more elusive than most would imagine. True, I am posting delicious looking food every few days. In reality many of these dishes are prepared for my newspaper column. 

After spending up to two hours photographing the food it is hardly appetizing. Leftovers are often frozen for work lunches. Many recipes are theoretically good to freeze but in actuality the quality is compromised. What I am saying is that I take a taste of the freshly made food but most times I am eating leftovers.

Then there the times that I am testing a recipe and, how do I say this politely, I don't like it. But someone else might like it. Most times I suggest changes that I feel will improve the dish. A quality, nutritious, delicious meal is long overdue.  

I don't mean to say that a meal isn't a meal without meat but it has been a long time since I have made a nice beef meal. And I don't mean to hint that because I am watching calories that I have not had a real meal. I am finding great satisfaction in simple, nicely cooked food eaten mindfully.

What I mean is that I have not had real food in the house for a couple of days and yesterday I resorted to a KFC supper.  Who hasn't done that?

This is an inner round cut steak which means it is a less tender cut. Less tender cuts are from the muscles that are used more. They require long, moist heat to tenderize and bread down the connective tissue that makes this meat tough.

The less tender cuts are usually more flavourful and always lower in fat. They are less expensive and they are equally as nutritious as the most tender, high priced steak. 

Any sweet green pepper can be used. The Anaheim green pepper is mildly hot and is often used in making chile relleno. If left in the field it will ripen to orange and red. I found this one for half price in the produce department the other day and making this dish even more cost friendly.

To be clear, I love this meal. The seasoning is balanced and not spicy. The sauce pairs very well with a plain basmati rice. Add a vegetable or two and you have a nutritionally balanced meal. 

Saucy Cajun Round Steak

1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
1 lb. inside round marinating steak
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 onions, sliced
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning 
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 1/2 c. beef stock
2 Anaheim green peppers
2 green onions, for garnish
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

In large plastic bag, shake together flour, salt and pepper. Cut steak into 8 pieces. One piece at a time, seal steak in bag; pound with meat mallet to 1/4-inch thickness, working flour mixture into meat. Reserve any remaining flour mixture.

In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown meat well, in batches if necessary. Remove to plate.

Add onions, garlic, celery, Cajun seasoning and thyme. Cook, stirring, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with any reserved flour mixture. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk tomato paste into stock and pour into pan. Return steaks and any accumulated juices to pan.

Cover and simmer over low heat, turning steaks halfway through, 1 hour and 45 minutes. Add green pepper. Simmer, covered, until steaks are fork-tender and green pepper is tender-crisp, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions and parsley.

15.3.15

Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin from Epicurious


This recipe came in my email inbox this week from Epicurious. Their picture was stunning and enticed me to try it as soon as I possibly could. I have to say that adding pastry to anything takes it up a notch, both visually and for its gustatory enjoyment.

This is a dish that deserves a place at a vegetarian meal as the entrée. Most people like a little brown sugar on their sweet potatoes. Me, I like butter. Next time I would skip the carmelized sugar in the bottom of the pan. It was too sweet for my taste.

I prefer to use my cast iron pan for tarte tatin. It is essentially a pan that releases well without using a lot of fat. It holds the temperature nicely and the dark colour allows for optimal browning of pastry.

Having said that, this did not completely come out of the pan for me. I think I left it a tad too long and would be better inverted on a serving plate while it is still bubbling a bit. Some of the sweet potato slices stayed in the pan but were easy enough to take out with a spatula and arrange atop the pie.

Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled, sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled, sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • butter pastry for single crust pie
  • All-purpose flour (for surface)
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400°. Toss potato, sweet potato, carrots, parsnip, and onion with oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper and arrange vegetables in a single layer. Roast until golden around the edges and tender, 30-35 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, cook sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan over mediumhigh heat, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is amber-colored, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and add vinegar and a pinch of salt, swirling pan to combine. Quickly pour caramel into a 9"-diameter pie pan; tilt and rotate pan to evenly coat bottom with caramel. Scatter rosemary and sage over top.

Arrange potatoes, carrots, and parsnips snugly in a single layer on top of caramel, using smaller carrot and parsnip pieces to fill in any holes. Scatter onion rings and crumble goat cheese over vegetables.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12" round. Drape over vegetables, tucking edges into pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Bake until crust looks dry, about 20 minutes; reduce heat to 350° and bake until crust is golden brown, 15-20 minutes.